I truly believe comedy is the most challenging film category. Sure, horror and drama can be hard, but nothing is as complicated as making someone laugh. Whenever someone says they are comedy writers or producers, I have instant respect for them. Ben Rohan and Carmelo Keating are another pair who have jumped headfirst into this challenge. After speaking with them, I can see their passion for comedy and more specifically their love for their upcoming short film Otter and Fox.
Ben Rohan is the writer and director of Otter and Fox while Carmelo Keating is the producer. Both are currently working tirelessly on pick ups and reshoots.
What is Otter and Fox?
“Otter and Fox is a 15 minute short film about two robbers in the middle of the biggest heist in Brisbane’s history. They have robbed 9 luxury stores in a row and want to celebrate by robbing some snacks at a grocery store. At the store, they run into a kid named Zane and from their chaos ensues.” -Ben
Where did this idea first pop into your head?
“I typically get inspired by the name first… The idea was the name Otter and Fox and then the robbery part came after.” – Ben
Melo, why did you choose Otter and Fox to produce?
“I got to hear Otter and Fox right from the conceptual phase and its pitch. I just thought “that’s just Ben on a page, it’s brilliant and hilarious.” I actually also pitched my own idea and I slowly saw it got deleted on Teams. But straight away I knew I wanted to be on Otter and Fox. It was always a project I supported and always loved. – Carmelo
When you are casting Ben, what do you look for in actors?
“The main things we looked for were people who could take directions but were also really good at improv. Being a comedy, they had to be good off the cuff. When people did it differently or added their own twist it just made them standout.” – Ben
What have been the biggest challenges of making an indie comedy?
“The film takes place in a supermarket. We looked into independent supermarkets. All in all, I contacted 30 supermarkets across Brisbane and only one replied. They almost dipped out and we had to get them back on board.” – Melo
“One of the biggest challenges was probably getting the script right. Once you start writing, you see that people don’t get it or the plot holes start opening up. Rewriting jokes and trying to get jokes in is sooo tricky. You want it to be funny but you don’t want it to be cheesy.” – Ben
So far, what has been the most rewarding part of Otter and Fox?
“Hands down the actual filming process. Finally getting on set and working with everyone with such an awesome crew was amazing. There were tears but they were always good tears followed by laughter… I hope.” – Ben
“Getting the team photo after an exhausting week. Seeing our crew still smiling and being happy it pointed me back to that first night where I got attached to it.” – Melo
Ben’s Writing Process
“75% of the time my script writing process is not writing a script. I suck at sitting down and doing something. I have fun doing it but I just won’t. Just verbally vomiting as much as you can to keep the story going. Even if you don’t think something is going to work, just keep going with it, finish it and then edit it. The more you write the more you come up with” – Ben
Melo’s Producing Process
“I had to try and allow myself to take momentary breaks. If it’s just go go go you will burn out. Always prioritising your mental health first but if you are having a breather, it’s got to be a productive one. “ – Melo
What are your ultimate goals with this short film?
“I would love to do the festival circuit. But I just want to show as many people as possible. I am so proud of this project and I will be just pushing it into my family and friends faces. This is why I couldn’t hang out with you for the last 12 months. Also, I would LOVE to do a cinema screening. Just to see it on a big screen would be so fun.” – Ben
What are your dream projects to get off the ground or collaboration?
“I once pitched this project called the Death of Cinema. It’s about this 40 year old washed up cinema manager who has lost his love for the job he is in. His autistic nephew who he has been separated from him comes to start working for him. I wanted it to explore the meaningfulness of the cinema as being one of the only places where people can go and share the same experience no matter who you are.” – Melo
“My brain keeps going back to Survivor. I love the idea of watching it, making it, the twists, voting each other out, even the craziness of it. Being a producer on that or even reality TV in general. Starting my own reality show would be fun.” – Ben
Favourite movies and director?
“My favourite movie is Mr Bean’s Holiday. It’s up there with Over the Hedge and the Little Rascals. There’s just something so stupid about them and how nostalgic they really are. Taika Waititi – I love Hunt for the Wilder People and Boy. Also, Sam Raimi cause he directed Spiderman 3. Also, Edgar Wright.” – Ben
“I do adore Spielberg because he was at the forefront as one of the handful of directors who made sci-fi what it is and some of the best war films. But Adam Mckay is one of my favourite directors – Vice, Step Brothers, Anchorman. My favourite films are Star Wars, the Great Escape, Blackkklansman.” – Melo
Where do you both want to see the Brisbane Film scene move?
“I really like the Brisbane scene but since I am at the beginning of my journey, I want to see more beginner filmmakers getting into it. You honestly don’t need a budget to make a film and I think that’s something we need to push. I feel like the community is pretty small and I want to see it expand.” – Ben
“Breaking down the stigma of making a bad project. You have got to make a bad film so you can learn from it. I don’t think I made a bad film but I made an ambitious film. It was ultimately a learning experience. I would love to break down the stigma – don’t hide from your films or be embarrassed about it.” – Melo
Anything else you want to shoutout or promote?
“Keep an eye out for the names Carmelo Keating and Benjamin Rohan attached to it. Also, the Griffith Film School Chronicle, go check that out.” – Melo
“I want to shout out the actors Bridget Freem, Mark Hill. As a director, they have made it so fantastic, they are super funny and easy to work with. They make each other laugh and even the crew laugh. Also, the moment Chris fell over…” – Ben / Melo